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Another sync tragedy


whatalob
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Senator Michaels-

this camera does not have a crystal controlled motor to keep it running precisely on speed for exact sync throughout a take

thebrengun-

Yes, if it's an Arri S it will not keep sync.

Although Arriflex never made a crystal motor for the Arri S or Arri M, there were aftermarket motors available from several sources. Looking online, I find a motor from Tobin Camera Systems:

http://arri16s.com/Motors.htm

I believe there were others as well but I can't confirm that at the moment.

Anyway, generally best to wait until all the evidence is in before making judgment. (Although I acknowledge that a crystal sync Arri S is a bit unusual and the use of an unblimped camera for sync work is often a red flag.)

David

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Although Arriflex never made a crystal motor for the Arri S or Arri M, there were aftermarket motors available from several sources.

I seem to recall Cinema Products made one, but the need for a blimp made it pretty much impractical for most people. (I think there was a 400' magazine that was equally clumsy for the S.)

With the Arri M, we just used a sync cable and it was fine -- provided you had the sound mixer no more than 10 feet from the camera! I think the motor was integrated with the camera on the M, so when they finally went crystal sync with the SR (following the Eclair NPR and ACL), Arri pretty much designed a new camera from scratch and quickly took over the business. The later Aaton camera -- designed by some of the Eclair guys -- was as sophisticated as the SR, but went into a different direction.

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That camera is old enough that even if they had a sync motor it might have been broken or out of alignment and run off speed. I had an entire 5 day shoot's worth of sync footage shot with two old NPRs (w/ Beala motors) be so out of of sync that the editor kept insisting that I had not given him all the sound rolls, when it was a 2 camera set up on the same subject. The culprit was the ancient non-maintained motors (this was LONG after everyone else had moved on from the NPR...)

philp

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Yes, I agree with Phil -- I can remember some 1980s film projects with speed-drifting problems, and it turned out to be motor problems with the actual camera. We ran around in circles for two days doing tests on the Rank scanners, trying to figure out if they were running off-speed, but eventually the DP got into the discussion and admitted he had replaced the motor after it was making "a weird noise." All the footage shot with the bad motor had to be reshot.

Not only do they initially try to blame the sound department, they beat the hell out of the post department, insisting that all our dailies were wrong. The producers had a hard time accepting that of all the projects done in the room, only theirs seemed to be affected by "our" problem. And there were no apologies once the real culprit was found; it was like, "ah, funny thing -- it turned out to be the camera. We'll get back to you when we need new transfers done."

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Just an update on this. Turns out its not so much of a tragedy after all. Now indeed the material is on 24, and the sound stamped at 24 syncs fine apparently. The files that were recorded at 25 were drifting but restamping with waveagent did the trick. haven't heard back for any problems so far and hopefully no drifting due to the camera, but I still don't know the exact model it was.

there will definitely be an issue with the camera noise messing up the dialogue (for CUs at least), for which we did wildtracks and recoded the rehearsals, but I imagine it will still be a pain. ADR is not an option, perhaps denoising will

Are there any strategies for this problem at filming stage? kinda off topic now i guess

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" there will definitely be an issue with the camera noise messing up the dialogue... any strategies for this problem at filming stage? "

you're joking..? ::)

no not joking, just curious. I was told that the camera is really quiet before filming, but it was not. The sound cover made no difference at all. Sure, this job is a lot about fighting set noises and in the past even dv cameras have been too noisy for me, so just wondering what people used to do with film ones.

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Although noise comes primarily from the intermittent movement, there are other sources of sound. The passage of perforations over transport sprockets in the magazine does make some noise and the whole body of the camera can vibrate sympathetically with any of these noises. Body vibrations tend to be passed down the lens and that can act as a trumpet, delivering the sound directly to the set.

There are a number of ways of dealing with this noise. For the manufacturer, it usually comes down to either containing the noise within a housing (BNC Mitchell and, to some extent, Arri 16BL) or making the machinery inherently quiet. Eclair and Aaton worked on making the intermittent as quiet as possible, designing claw and pin movements that would slide into a perforation to minimize the clicking sound as the claw pulled down onto the perf.

Once the camera has been built, the operator has only a few choices on minimizing noise. Sometimes the size of the film loop may make a small difference - a perforation tighter or looser may be noticeably quieter. Also, it's usually best to work with very fresh stock; older stock may be slightly shrunken as it dries.

A barney does help some but the noise reduction, as Mark points out, is probably minimal if the sound absorbing material only covers the magazine. A barney that covers the whole camera, especially including the motor area, can be more effective.

I also found that loose-mounting a filter on the end of the lens could achieve noticeable reduction. On a 16mm camera, the filter is typically a large series size, often Series 9, that mounts into a holder screwed to the lens. (As opposed to filters that screw directly to the end of the lens as one often sees in still cameras) I would pad the mount side of the series adapter with moleskin so that the filter would rest against a pad. Then I screwed the retaining ring in and backed it off just a bit from fully screwed down. That would allow slight movement of the filter in the series adapter. Then I would screw the series adapter (with padded filter) onto the lens and also back off those threads just a quarter turn. The eased retaining ring and series adapter were secured with a piece of tape. It's a long description but the process itself is quite simple and quickly accomplished. By having a padded filter that is not tightly mounted to the lens, one breaks (to some extent) the trumpeting effect of the metal and glass construction of the lens.

For critical work, one could mount a piece of clear plexi to a C-stand and position it in front of the lens. This would also help shield the talent from the noise of the camera but putting anything not optically pure in front of the lens is a hard sell. In fact, if it's placed within an inch or so of the front of the lens, any image degradation is almost certainly unnoticeable.

David

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cine 60 (and Arri) made effective fiberglass and metal blimps for Arri S, M and IIB and IIC cameras.

some of these also included a mains sync motor.. a very few had a crystal sync motor. If the camera has not had maintenance in a while, the motor coupling may not grab securely enough to move the camera transport at sync speed, even if the motor itself is running at crystal sync).

Tobin's aftermarket crystal motors work well, but are not part of a quiet camera, and the coupling wear issue can absolutely be present.

their base motor for 35mm cameras can fit in some blimps, and is gear to gear interlocked, and thus likely to lock up just fine.

The quietest old school camera I worked with was a Mitchell BNCR with a CP crystal motor.. you had to touch the camera to feel any vibration.. VERY steady mechanism

Drawbacks: It weighed well over 100 pounds loaded and lensed.. The AC needed to make sure they kept the camera oiled on a shoot (not kidding... the mechanism had originally been developed around 1918)

and well.. producers usually want something with more current features if they are going to shoot film..

Lets not forget that shooting on film keeps becoming less and less common.

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